Saturday July 12 1969 and my love affair with a tv series began. That was the first time that Star Trek aired in the UK. My memory is a little vague about this in the respect that I thought it replaced Doctor Who in the same time slot, my favourite Doctor of that time was Jon Pertwee, Doctor number Three but since researching this I find that Star Trek actually aired in the UK before Jon Pertwee took over the role the following year. What I do remember is that I was hooked from the first time I saw the starship Enterprise flash across the tv screen. This was the tv show I had always wanted, a live action sci fi action show where crews of space ships explored the galaxy fighting encounters with aliens. There were ray guns, as we called them back then, space ships, distant planets, all the things I’d craved for since my love of sci fi began. The closest thing for me on tv had been Fireball XL5 back in 1962 and then nothing until Lost in Space. Star Trek for me at the tender age of thirteen was the epitome of sci fi, it was what sci fi should have been and it was the best thing on tv. I couldn’t wait for Saturday to come around so I could watch the next episode. When it got cancelled I was mortified. It wasn’t until Star Wars came around that I felt the same way again about anything remotely sci fi. Of course the popularity of Star Wars gave Star Trek the opportunity to move out again into the vast cosmos via Movies. So there we were once more venturing forth with the crew of the Enterprise we all had come to know as best friends, some even better than family. When the news of the reboot hit I was in two minds, first off I was pleased that the adventures would continue with a younger crew, we all could see the aging crew battling not only the alien encounters but the onset of old age, sometimes the latter was a harder battle to fight and secondly that if they were going to do it, then please don’t mess it up. Although I enjoyed the new film, I wasn’t overjoyed with the new timeline. It was a little too far removed from what we were familiar with, but, I thought with the next film perhaps we would get closer to the old formula, see more of the characters we all loved come out in the new portrayals. I was wrong, Into Darkness was a mess, so much so that I didn’t even go see the following film when it was released. I heard that they were going to return to what made Star Trek so popular, but I’d heard promises of this nature before and been let down, we all had, so I gave it a miss. Then the reviews came out and, with reservation I bought the Blu Ray when I was released. This is the film that blows away the previous two films and is the Star Trek film, we the fans had been waiting for, the film we all deserved. They got everything right, from the writing right down to the acting, everything was just how it should be. The got rid of the ridiculous lens flares, the use of the Budweiser facility for the interior of the Enterprise and brought on people who actually knew about Star Trek, people who were fans of the show and it showed. My love affair with a show, no more than just a show, with everything that Star Trek is has been rekindled. Now I can’t wait until the next film is released, I just hope they keep all the same talent on board to maintain what they’ve tried so hard to achieve with Beyond. Until then I’ll just have to watch Beyond again, and again.
Any writer will tell you that writers block can strike at any time. It’s one of those things that no one really knows what causes it or why but when it strikes it can be crippling. I’ve had it affect me too many times in my short career and each time it happens I sit in despondency hoping it’ll go away soon, but it never does. There are a few tips writers employ to get through this and there are many forums where this problem is discussed at length but the fact of the matter is, you have to use what works for you. Not every tip is relevant for each writer because we all have our own ways of working. What works for me though, and the important thing here is that it doesn’t always work, I’ve tried several ways and this has been the most successful, is to write anything. Each time this method/trick has worked I have started writing a different story, something that I played around with. It may have started with just a few lines which developed into a bit of a story which then went on to become another series, eventually. The first time I tried this trick I was trying to write the next installment in the Col Sec series and due to personal issues, we were in the process of moving home and it wasn’t going well, I found little time or will to concentrate on anything remotely Col Sec. I had to write though, and when I had the free time to sit and actually do something nothing would come so I played around with what was then just a germ of an idea. It got me through until we had finally moved and had settled in our new home which saw me able to return to Col Sec. The idea I had played around with eventually became The Satan Strain which I self published under the pen name of Jack Dillon. This time I find myself struggling with another Col Sec book and I think a number of things have attributed to the block, one of which is settling in to a new routine with a new job. I’m really enjoying working at my new place, it brings back memories of when I was a teenager on an apprenticeship and all the fun I had starting out in a career that, back then I had no idea would span over forty years. It’s difficult to explain but for the last twenty years I worked at a job that although I knew exceptionally well, I was always learning something new. Unfortunately what I was learning was how not to treat your employees, how not to run a business and no matter how well you did your job, someone, somewhere would find fault. To say it was difficult would be somewhat of an understatement. This time around I have found somewhere that respects experience, treats their employees as humans and is fun to go to. There are some who have their moans and groans, that is normal, you can’t please everyone and the job is by means perfect but it helps pay the bills. The transition from where I worked to where I am now has taken a little longer than I expected and yet in some cases it seems sooner than realised, hence the block. I tried my trick once more and yesterday I found what started out as an idea formed into what could be another series. The important thing though is I think it helped me get through the block and back into the Col Sec adventure I was writing. This blog post is a point proving that I have begun the road to recovery.
This tip/trick, whatever you want to call it, might not work for everyone but it certainly helps me, and like I said earlier, not every time either. If you find yourself stuck unable to write the best advice I can give you is try not to worry about it to start off with. Worrying only makes it worse, that much is true, and it’s only wasted energy anyway. If I’ve learned anything in my life it’s that it’s pointless to worry about things beyond your control. What will happen will happen whether you worry about it or not. So if you get hit by the scourge of every writer just do what works for you, try different tricks until you find something that works. You never know, you could end up writing something that becomes a best seller.
After spending twenty years working for a company doing a job I have spent over forty years learning I faced the harsh reality of a failing economy. The company I was working for went into decline, falling orders forced them to seek solutions to combat this dire situation and I was one of the casualties.
I was suddenly faced with one of the top five most stressful things you can do during your lifetime, changing jobs. This was something I never thought I would have to do again, considering the time I had devoted to the company which just illustrated the severity of the situation. Never the less, taking the bit between my teeth I set out to find another job which I did, with much less trouble than I expected, I think the magic words ‘forty years experience’ helped there.
The new company, even though they trade in the same market place has a more diverse clientele and to fill the customers requirements means I have to learn new skills. Some say people of my age don’t like change and don’t cope well with it but I beg to differ. When I started writing the only way to get published was through a publishing contract with a publishing house. During my journey of discovery I learned that self publishing was becoming a viable alternative, or so we aspiring writers were led to believe. I also learned all the things publishing houses do for writers, which I had to learn to do for myself. It was a challenge that I embraced with optimism and hope which quickly turned to frustration and, at times, panic and despair but I never gave up. That attitude saw me through, honing my skills to the point where I earned myself a publishing contract with a small press in the United States. This is the first step on the ladder to fulfilling my dream of becoming a full time writer. It’s also with this same attitude I embraced my new job, facing the challenge of learning new skills to become a useful member of the team I now work with.
This experience has reminded me of something that I always knew but that was never recognised in my old job. Experience does count and you can teach old dogs new tricks, you just have to be willing to face the challenge.
I recently visited my local public library and saw the first two books of my Col Sec series, Ronin and Omega proudly displayed on the shelves in the Sci fi section. I posted the picture I took on here then shared it on other social media.
I had reason to revisit the library a week later and because I got such a huge kick out of seeing my books on actual shelves along with other books I had to have another look. This time though only Omega was there which proves that someone somewhere was reading my work, another huge kick.
As I wandered around looking for possible books to read I came across The Death List and The Satan Strain, two more books I’d written but this time under the pen name of Jack Dillon. It’s difficult to say how many people had read these books, I’d like to think a lot but who knows? The point is they are on the shelves too, which made me wonder. Pretty soon, early next year The Blackstar Gambit will be published by Imzadi Publishing and I’m sure I can get this one added to the library’s subscription list so that it can be added along with my other titles. So considering the kick I got out of seeing my self published titles displayed I wonder how I’ll feel when I see this next one alongside them. Pretty cool Huh?
Anyway, there’s a bit to go before Blackstar Gambit is published and I will post updates of its progress when I have any, so as always, watch this space.